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Gaara (我愛羅) is the youngest child of the Fourth Kazekage. Being raised as a tool of the Sand, Gaara gained the nickname "Gaara of the Sand" (砂瀑の我愛羅, Sabuku no Gaara).
Gaara is the son of the Fourth Kazekage and the younger brother of Temari and Kankuro. Because of Sunagakure's decreases in funds, Gaara's father ordered Chiyo to seal the One-Tailed Shukaku within Gaara during his birth in the hopes that he would become the ultimate weapon for the village. Because a sacrifice was needed, Gaara's mother, Karura, was used. Before she died, Karura cursed Sunagakure, hoping Gaara would avenge her death.
Gaara was trained by his father, but raised mainly by his uncle, Yashamaru. Because of the power of Shukaku, the villagers of Sunagakure hated and feared Gaara, seeing him only for the monster sealed within him. For a time, Yashamaru seemed to be the only person who cared about Gaara. When Gaara would mistakenly harm others due to the subconscious abilities granted to him by Shukaku, Yashamaru would be the only one who understood that Gaara hadn't intended to harm anyone. Gaara's father, however, did not see Gaara in the same light, and viewed Gaara's frequent attacks upon villagers as a result of a failed experiment that was a threat to the village. Because of the danger Gaara imposed, his father began sending assassins to kill him, though when all attempts met with failure, the Kazekage asked Yashamaru to kill Gaara. As a result, Yashamaru tried to assassinate Gaara, though Gaara's abilities defeated Yashamaru with ease, saddening Gaara. Although Gaara tried to dismiss Yashamaru's attack as an order of the Kazekage, Yashamaru corrected him by saying that he had willingly accepted the mission. Having never truly loved Gaara, Yashamaru hoped that killing Gaara would avenge the death of his sister, who had named Gaara after the phrase "a self-loving carnage" (我を愛する修羅, Ware wo ai suru shura), a sign of her hate for Gaara. In a last ditch effort to kill Gaara, Yashamaru detonated a number of explosive tags covering his body, asking Gaara to, "Please die." Gaara survives the blast and loses the only person he thought had cared for him.
While Gaara had initially tried to be friendly towards others despite their fear of him, Yashamaru's actions and words changed Gaara. Realizing that nobody loved him, Gaara used his sand to create the kanji on his forehead (愛, "Love") as a symbol of a "demon loving only himself". Gaara became emotionally withdrawn, all but silent, and consumed with a bitter loathing for everyone but himself. He learned to find pleasure and eventually a reason to live in annihilating the numerous assassins sent to kill him – and by extension, anyone who threatened his existence. Gaara's insomnia, forced upon him by the fear that the demon inside him would eat away at his personality if he were to fall asleep, only furthered his instability and desire to kill. In time, Gaara's father would come to appreciate Gaara and the uses he could serve, and canceled all assassination orders in the hopes that Gaara would become an effective tool.
Gaara's childhood was somewhat similar to Naruto Uzumaki's, albeit more unfortunate due to his lack of anyone to call a friend. Both were lonely and desired to be liked, loved, and acknowledged as an individual, free of others' prejudices — they are themselves, not the demons they were forced to "contain" — and both were driven into a desperate state. While Naruto consequently developed the misconception that pranks and mischief would bring him the attention he sought, Gaara came to the conclusion that he could preserve and confirm his own existence by killing any and all who challenged it, securing an extreme form of existentialism as his key personality trait. In the absence of others' acknowledgment, he could compensate by valuing only himself to the exclusion of everyone else. Furthermore, while Naruto eventually had Iruka Umino and Team 7 to acknowledge him, Gaara never had anyone to bond with and did not understand the concept of fighting for anything other than himself until his confrontation with Naruto.
Gaara first appears hanging upside down on a tree, telling Kankuro to stop picking on Konohamaru, which instantly silences Kankuro. Sasuke Uchiha is amazed by Gaara's ability to appear out of nowhere, comparing Gaara's speed and stealth to that of Kakashi Hatake.
During the second phase of the Chunin Exams, Gaara demonstrates his thirst for blood by killing the Rain Genin Shigure, who Gaara claims had looked at him the wrong way. Shigure is followed quickly by his teammates, despite their pleas for mercy. Gaara and his team finish this phase in roughly an hour, beating the previous record by over four hours, with Gaara not getting so much as a speck of dust on his clothes, a feat that would be very difficult even for an experienced ninja.
In the preliminary matches, Gaara is matched against Rock Lee. Lee's formidable speed and strength are enough to bypass Gaara's Shield of Sand completely, forcing him to rely on his secondary Armor of Sand. Despite Lee's best efforts, Gaara's sand protects him from even Lee's Reverse Lotus, which leaves Lee in no condition to fight after its use. Though Lee's Reverse Lotus does immobilize Gaara, it is not enough to keep Gaara from using his sand to crush Lee's arm and leg, critically injuring him. Gaara tries to kill Lee, but Might Guy intervenes before he can harm Lee any further.
In the final round matches of the Chunin Exams, Gaara is to play a major role in Orochimaru's invasion upon Konohagakure by releasing Shukaku within the center of the village. During his match with Sasuke Uchiha, however, Gaara is wounded by Sasuke's Chidori, disabling him from serving his role in the invasion. With Gaara no longer in a condition to join the battle, Gaara and his siblings flee the village while the invasion proceeds without them.
Gaara is pursued by the members of Team 7, which forces Gaara to begin calling upon Shukaku. Gaara managed to pin Sakura to a tree with sand and slowly began to crush her while he fought Sasuke. When Sasuke uses too much of his chakra, Naruto arrived in time to save them both. When Gaara wasn't able to beat the demon fox fueled Naruto, Gaara releases the full force of the Shukaku and even puts himself to sleep to give it full power. However, in in this form Gaara failed to defeat Naruto and Gamabunta and was finally beaten by them. Gaara was puzzled by the fighting spirit Naruto had for those he cares about, which he couldn't understand. Naruto's undying devotion to his friends also surprises Gaara, causing Gaara to realize that Naruto's strength comes from the desire to protect his friends. As Gaara and his siblings flee the scene, Gaara openly apologizes to Kankuro and Temari, which surprises and confuses them. Thanks to Naruto's influence, the defeat proves to be a major turning point for Gaara
Sasuke Retrieval Mission
Team Baki was called by the Fifth Hokage to assist Team Shikamaru in retrieving Sasuke when he defected from Konoha. Gaara arrives to help Rock Lee battle Kimimaro Kaguya. Here Gaara shows his change in personality as he worries about Lee's injuries, the same ones he gave him in the Chunin Exams, while fighting Kimimaro. In the fight, Gaara shows off several new abilities, though he couldn't defeat Orochimaru's disciple, and both he and Lee were almost killed by him though they were saved only by Kimimaro dying from his own terminal disease.
The Sand Siblings would later appear when they become teachers at a Konoha style ninja academy at the Sand. As instructors, Gaara takes on the only student who was willing to train under him, Matsuri. Because of Matsuri's fear of weapons, Gaara trains her to use a jouhyou. When a group of people called the Shiitenshounin kidnap her in order to get Gaara to them so they get Shukaku's chakra in order to take down the major shinobi villages. The Sand calls for aid from Konoha, namely Naruto, Lee, Shikamaru, Ino, Kiba, Choji, Hinata, and Neji. When Gaara catches and attacks the Shiitenshounin leader, Jin but is captured. To escape Gaara does a partial Shukaku transformation, reviving the Takumi Village's ultimate weapon, the Seimei. Gaara later destroys the Seimei with a Shukaku's Spear, and kills Jin with a Desert Imperial Funeral.
Rescue the Kazekage
Having become the Fifth Kazekage during Naruto's two and a half year absence from Konoha, Gaara is targeted by the Akatsuki, who seek to extract Shukaku from within him. Though Gaara is able to fend off one of their agents, Deidara, rather effectively (actually crushing one of Deidara's arms during the battle), Deidara manages to capture Gaara by launching a high-powered clay bomb to destroy the village. Gaara is able to protect his village, but at the expense of much of his chakra, leaving him severely weakened. This allows Deidara to mix a clay bomb with Gaara's sand without the latter noticing, knocking Gaara unconscious once it goes off and allowing Gaara to easily be taken to the Akatsuki hideout.
Although Team Kakashi does their best to save Gaara, they do not arrive in time to stop Akatsuki's extraction of Shukaku, resulting in Gaara's death. However, Chiyo resurrects Gaara with her life-restoring technique in the hopes that it will make up for her sealing of the Shukaku into Gaara years earlier, bringing Gaara back to life at the cost of her own. Gaara is awoken by Naruto, and as he wakes he realizes that he is surrounded by people concerned for him. This is the first time Gaara truly feels loved and not so alone. He also shows his first true smile since he was six, rather than the bloodthirsty grin he often gives.
Before Naruto goes back home, he tries to say goodbye, but admits that it's not something he's good at. Gaara uses some sand to encourage and guide Naruto's hand, and the two shake hands, symbolizing Gaara and Naruto's friendship and Gaara's new characteristics. Additionally, while the precise effect on Gaara from the Shukaku's loss is still unknown, this scene shows that he has retained the ability to manipulate sand.
As the host of Shukaku, Gaara possessed the ability to manipulate sand, typically moving it through the air to serve various purposes. The amount of sand he can control at one time is fairly immense, as in Part II he is able to gather enough sand to cover Sunagakure as a shield. If sand is lacking in abundance, Gaara can use what little sand there is to break apart the minerals in the ground to create more sand. While he can control any dry sand, ordinary sand requires more chakra to manipulate it, tiring him at a rapid rate. As a result, Gaara keeps his own chakra-enhanced sand with him at all times in a calabash gourd also made out of sand on his back. Because this sand is already infused with his chakra, Gaara has a great deal more control over it, enabling stronger and faster attacks with it.
During battle, Gaara rarely moves, attacking with his sand from a single location and rarely using taijutsu. When first introduced his basic means of attacks is to first use Desert Coffin (砂縛柩, Sabaku Kyū; English TV "Sand Coffin") to capture, immobilize, and potentially suffocate an opponent with sand. Once the opponent is subdued, he uses Desert Funeral (砂漠送葬, Sabaku Sōsō; English TV "Sand Burial") to cause the sand to crush the opponent with varying intensities. In time he is able to increase the scale of these attacks; by first using Quicksand in the Style of a Waterfall (流砂瀑流, Ryūsa Bakuryū; English TV "Sand Tsunami"), Gaara covers a large area in an ocean of sand, and then uses Desert Imperial Funeral (砂漠大葬, Sabaku Taisō; English TV "Giant Sand Burial") to compress the sand and crush all that it covers. If Desert Imperial Funeral fails to kill an opponent, he can use Prison Sand Burial (獄砂埋葬, Gokusamaisō) to loosen the ground beneath an opponent and allow them to sink hundreds of feet underground, where the sand compresses to such an extent that the opponent is no longer able to move.
As the second element of his stationary combat style, Gaara has a number of sand-based defenses to be used in case an opponent gets too close. His primary defense is his Shield of Sand (砂の盾, Suna no Tate), an automatic sand shield that surrounds and protects him from damage whether he wants it to or not. Gaara can control the shield to some degree, strengthening it to steel-like quality or calling upon it to completely encase himself. While an effective defense, the shield can be overcome with high speed attacks or simply be broken through with incredibly forceful strikes. Should this happen, Gaara has a layer of sand covering his body called the Armor of Sand (砂の鎧, Suna no Yoroi). Although it's a useful secondary defense, the armor requires large amounts of chakra to remain active and also has the side-effect of weighing Gaara down. If need be, Gaara can protect himself before being put into danger by using Desert Prison (砂漠牢, Sabaku Rō), which dedicates a desert's worth of sand to containing a single opponent.
In addition to these basic methods of offensive and defense, Gaara also has a number of miscellaneous attacks that, while capable of being an attack or a shield, are not limited to such purposes. By making a Sand Clone (砂分身, Suna Bunshin) of himself, Gaara can have an ally to be used in battle or a mere distraction to be used to buy him time. Unlike most other clone-jutsu in the series, the Sand Clone can retain its shape after more than one attack, and can even reform itself or capture an opponent upon being dispersed. Sand Drizzle (砂時雨, Suna Shigure) allows him to collect sand in the air that rains down on the opponent at high speeds in potentially harmful shapes. With Desert Suspension (砂漠浮遊, Sabaku Fuyū) Gaara can use sand as a platform to allow himself and others to float in the air. His Third Eye (第三の眼, Daisan no Me) also allows him to create a floating eyeball of sand in any location that he can see through as a means of spying.
At some point in time Gaara begins to be able to form weapons in Shukaku's likeness. The first that is seen is Ultimate Absolute Defense: Shield of Shukaku (最硬絶対防御・守鶴の盾, Saikō Zettai Bōgyo: Shukaku no Tatte), which creates a toy-like replica of Shukaku that is roughly twice the size of Gaara. Because the replica is formed under extreme pressure and is built of the strongest minerals it is virtually indestructible, having yet to be penetrated by any force. The anime expands on the idea of having an "ultimate defense" by creating an "ultimate attack": Ultimate Absolute Attack: Shukaku's Spear (Saikō Zettai Hōgeki: Shukaku no Hōkō). The attack creates a spear under the same conditions as the replica, only the blade resembles one of Shukaku's claws. Like the shield, this attack has yet to meet a defense it can't break.
In desperate situations, Gaara can take on the form of Shukaku by layering sand on his body, making him many times more powerful than he already is. Shukaku's personality grows more dominant during this transformation, increasing Gaara's homicidal tendencies. Once finished, Gaara assumes a human-sized version of Shukaku wherein he relies on his brute strength to destroy everything around him. While in this form Gaara can use Sand Shuriken (砂手裏剣, Suna Shuriken) to hurl sand-based forms of shurikens at an opponent. Shukaku also gives him the ability to utilize wind-based attacks such as Wind Release: Infinite Sand Cloud Great Breakthrough (風遁・無限砂塵 大突破, Fūton: Mugen Sajin Daitoppa; English "Wind Style: Sandstorm Devastation"), which spews large amounts of sand from his mouth, devastating both the enemy and a large area around him.
If need be, Gaara can almost instantly create a life-sized version of Shukaku should the human-sized form fail. In this form, he remains deep within the Shukaku copy safe from harm though unable to move. Gaara can also unleash the spirit of Shukaku through his Feigning Sleep Technique (狸寝入りの術, Tanuki Neiri no Jutsu; English TV "Play Possum Jutsu"), which forces him to sleep to allow the Shukaku copy to operate at its full potential. To do so, however, Gaara must emerge from within the copy, leaving him open to attack for the duration of the jutsu. While Gaara is initially dependent on waking independently or through someone else's intervention to regain control of his body, he begins to be able to suppress Shukaku by himself towards the end of the anime's filler arcs. By the time Part II begins, Gaara is even capable of using numerous Shukaku arms for attack without losing control of himself.
In Part II, Gaara is captured by Deidara of Akatsuki and the Shukaku is extracted from his body, causing his death. Chiyo, regretting the life she gave Gaara when she sealed Shukaku in his body years earlier, gives up her life, using her puppet revival technique, to bring him back to life. While he no longer possesses the Shukaku, Gaara is still able to manipulate sand, as proven when he uses it to pull Naruto's hand towards his for a handshake, though greater degrees of control has yet to be seen.
- "Sand Coffin!!"
- "Sand Burial!!"
- "Well, is that all? I hope you're not done entertaining me. We haven't had enough . . . Blood!!"
- "They looked at me the wrong way.....so they're all dead."
- "Don't get in my way."
- "Come on..."
- "BLOOD!!! IT'S MY BLOOD!!!!
- "Orochimaru's brainwashed you well... you sad little pawn." (to Kimimaro)
- "You're the last of your clan, eh? Then your clan perishes today..." (to Kimimaro)
- "A tenacious opponent. But this time, it's over. We won't be seeing him again in this life."
- "My strength is gone. We must descend."
- "It was sheer luck. I should've been killed."
- "That meddlesome motherhen..."
- "...The closer they are to you, the greater the pain."
- "You and Naruto Uzumaki have that in common." (to Lee)
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